Experimental investigation of film cooling and thermal barrier coatings on a gas turbine vane with conjugate heat transfer effects
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In the United States, natural gas turbine generators account for approximately 7% of the total primary energy consumed. A one percent increase in gas turbine efficiency could result in savings of approximately 30 million dollars for operators and, subsequently, electricity end-users. The efficiency of a gas turbine engine is tied directly to the temperature at which the products of combustion enter the first stage, high-pressure turbine. The maximum operating temperature of the turbine components’ materials is the major limiting factor in increasing the turbine inlet temperature. In fact, current turbine inlet temperatures regularly exceed the melting temperature of the turbine vanes through advanced vane cooling techniques. These cooling techniques include vane surface film cooling, internal vane cooling, and the addition of a thermal barrier coating (TBC) to the exterior of the turbine vane. Typically, the performance of vane cooling techniques is evaluated using the adiabatic film effectiveness. However, the adiabatic film effectiveness, by definition, does not consider conjugate heat transfer effects. In order to evaluate the performance of internal vane cooling and a TBC it is necessary to consider conjugate heat transfer effects. The goal of this study was to provide insight into the conjugate heat transfer behavior of actual turbine vanes and various vane cooling techniques through experimental and analytical modeling in the pursuit of higher turbine inlet temperatures resulting in higher overall turbine efficiencies. The primary focus of this study was to experimentally characterize the combined effects of a TBC and film cooling. Vane model experiments were performed using a 10x scaled first stage inlet guide vane model that was designed using the Matched Biot Method to properly scale both the geometrical and thermal properties of an actual turbine vane. Two different TBC thicknesses were evaluated in this study. Along with the TBCs, six different film cooling configurations were evaluated which included pressure side round holes with a showerhead, round holes only, craters, a novel trench design called the modified trench, an ideal trench, and a realistic trench that takes manufacturing abilities into account. These film cooling geometries were created within the TBC layer. Each of the vane configurations was evaluated by monitoring a variety of temperatures, including the temperature of the exterior vane wall and the exterior surface of the TBC. This study found that the presence of a TBC decreased the sensitivity of the thermal barrier coating and vane wall interface temperature to changes in film coolant flow rates and changes in film cooling geometry. Therefore, research into improved film cooling geometries may not be valuable when a TBC is incorporated. This study also developed an analytical model which was used to predict the performance of the TBCs as a design tool. The analytical prediction model provided reasonable agreement with experimental data when using baseline data from an experiment with another TBC. However, the analytical prediction model performed poorly when predicting a TBC’s performance using baseline data collected from an experiment without a TBC.
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